ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Crackdowns on drunken driving prompted by alcohol-related deaths and an effort to increase police accountability are among the laws taking effect Oct. 1:
DRUNKEN DRIVING-IGNITION INTERLOCK
All drivers convicted of driving under the influence of alchohol will have to blow into ignition devices to prove they haven’t drunk too much before their cars will start. Ignition interlock devices will have to be installed for six months in the vehicle of anyone who blows the legal limit of .08 in a breath test, or else the person’s license would be suspended for six months. A driver who refuses a breath test would have to use the device for nine months, or accept a nine-month suspension. It’s known as “Noah’s Law” after 23-year-old police officer Noah Leotta, who was struck and killed by a drunk driver at a sobriety checkpoint.
Parents who knowingly allow underage drinking parties could face up to a year in jail, if an underage person who consumed alcohol leaves their home and hurts themselves or others in a crash. “Alex and Calvin’s Law” was named for the deaths of two high school graduates, Alex Murk and Calvin Li, who were killed in a drunken-driving crash after an underage drinking party last year.
“Last year, when Alex and Calvin were killed, there was no jail time it was just a fine,” said Del. David Fraser-Hidalgo, D-Montgomery, who sponsored the law. “Now that same parent could go to jail, and that’s really the game changer. …
“I’d like to think that this is a wake up call for some of those parents that seem to think that this is OK.”
The maximum jail sentence for people convicted of vehicular manslaughter after previous convictions of driving under the influence or while impaired by alcohol or drugs increases from five years to 15 years, with fines rising to $15,000.
The hiring, training and discipline of officers is changing in ways aimed at increasing trust between police and communities following unrest in Baltimore last year. Hearings of police trial boards will be open to the public. Local officials can decide whether to add civilians to boards that review complaints against police. New officers must study the application of anti-discrimination and use-of-force de-escalation training. A state training and standards commission is tasked with modernizing recruitment standards and practices and increasing diversity. And police officers who live where they work will get a tax credit.
Maryland’s equal pay law now prohibits businesses from retaliating against employees for discussing or disclosing salaries.
GREENHOUSE GAS REDUCTION
Maryland is intensifying its target for reducing greenhouse gases. The old target was a 25 percent reduction from 2006 levels by 2020. Now the state is committing to a 40 percent reduction by 2030.
A partnership between the University of Maryland, College Park, and the University of Maryland, Baltimore, is being strengthened, creating one University of Maryland with two campuses and two presidents.
Student journalists at public schools and public institutions of higher education will have freedom of speech protections in school-sponsored media, without being limited by the fact that the media is supported financially by the school system or institution of higher education.
Public bodies will be required to make an agenda available to the public at least 24 hours before meeting in open session.
People 21 and older can conduct home games involving wagering with a $1,000 limit on the amount wagered during any 24-hour period.
WTOP’s Nick Iannelli contributed to this report.
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